CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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FULFILLED

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 21 palm
Matthew is careful to narrate the story of Jesus in such a way to show us the fulfillment of all the prophets said in detail. God told the prophets. The prophets told God’s people how the Messiah would come, what He would do to save us, the suffering He would go through, and how laying down his life for ours for our sin would be our victory. The end of Jesus life on earth begins with publicly announcing His entrance as King…on a donkey’s colt…as written years earlier by the prophets.
 
Matthew 21, NLT
Jesus’ Triumphant Entry
 
Matthew 21 coltAs Jesus and the disciples approached Jerusalem, they came to the town of Bethphage on the Mount of Olives. Jesus sent two of them on ahead. 2 “Go into the village over there,” he said. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a donkey tied there, with its colt beside it. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone asks what you are doing, just say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will immediately let you take them.”
 
4 This took place to fulfill the prophecy that said,
 
5 “Tell the people of Jerusalem,
‘Look, your King is coming to you.
He is humble, riding on a donkey—
riding on a donkey’s colt.’”
 
6 The two disciples did as Jesus commanded. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt to him and threw their garments over the colt, and he sat on it.
 
8 Most of the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting,
 
“Praise God for the Son of David!
Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Praise God in highest heaven!”
 
10 The entire city of Jerusalem was in an uproar as he entered. “Who is this?” they asked.
 
11 And the crowds replied, “It’s Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
 
DIGGING DEEPER….
 
Since it was Passover, there were probably about two million people in and around Jerusalem. This was the only time in His ministry that Jesus actually planned and promoted a public demonstration. Up to this time, He had cautioned people not to tell who He was, and He had deliberately avoided public scenes.
 
Why did Jesus plan this demonstration? For one thing, He was obeying the Word and fulfilling the prophecy recorded in Zechariah 9:9. This prophecy could apply only to Jesus Christ, for He is the only One with credentials that prove He is Israel’s King. We usually do not associate the lowly donkey with kingship, but this was the royal animal of Jewish monarchs (1 Kings 2:32). There were actually two animals involved, the mother and the colt (foal). Jesus sat on the colt with the mother walking beside.
 
By comparing Matthew’s quotation with the original prophecy in Zechariah, we discover some interesting facts. Zechariah’s prophecy opens with, “Rejoice greatly” but Matthew omitted this phrase. When Jesus approached the city, He wept! How could He (or the people) rejoice when judgment was coming?
 
Mathew also omitted “He is just, and having salvation.” Our Lord’s coming to Jerusalem was an act of mercy and grace, not an act of justice or judgment. He did have salvation for them, but they refused to accept it (John 1:11). The next time Israel sees the King, He will ride in great power and glory (Rev. 19:11).
 
This colt had never been ridden (Mark 11:2), yet he meekly bore his burden. The presence of the mother helped, of course. But keep in mind that his rider was the King who has “dominion over … all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field” (Ps. 8:6–7). The fact that Jesus rode this beast and kept him in control is another evidence of His kingship.
 
Matthew 21 weptThere was a second reason for this public presentation: It forced the Jewish leaders to act. When they saw the spontaneous demonstration of the people, they concluded that Jesus had to be destroyed (see John 12:19). The prophetic Scriptures required that the Lamb of God be crucified on Passover. This demonstration of Christ’s popularity incited the rulers to act.
 
The people acclaimed Jesus as their King both by their words and their deeds. They shouted Hosanna, which means, “Save now!” They were quoting from Psalm 118:25–26, and this psalm is definitely messianic in character. Later that week, Jesus Himself would refer to this psalm and apply it to Himself (Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42).
 
Keep in mind that this Passover crowd was composed of at least three groups: the Jews who lived in Jerusalem, the crowd from Galilee, and the people who saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (John 12:17–18). Sharing the news of this miracle undoubtedly helped to draw such a large crowd. The people wanted to see this miracle-worker for themselves.
 
But the Jews still did not recognize Jesus as their King. What caused Israel’s spiritual blindness? For one thing, their religious leaders had robbed them of the truth of their own Word and had substituted man-made traditions (Luke 11:52). The leaders were not interested in truth; they were concerned only with protecting their own interests (John 11:47–53). “We have no king but Caesar!” was their confession of willful blindness. Even our Lord’s miracles did not convince them. And the longer they resisted the truth, the blinder they became (John 12:35ff.).
 
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION…
 
Matthew 21 eho is thisGiven what I know, how willfully blind am I to God’s Truth in the Person of Jesus Christ? Is He my Savior in which I put ALL my hope and trust? Is He LORD of my life? ALL of it? Do I allow Him to guide my thinking, being and doing?
 
Am I convinced…for life?
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Open my eyes to see you clearly, to follow you with focus and clarity and to live for you unashamed reflecting only Your glory. I humbly bow before you, King of my life and Lord of all my days.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
And I’m singing…King of My Heart…
 
Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
 
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song
 
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
 
And let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh oh, He is my song
 
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Oh oh, He is my song
 
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
You are good
 
You’re never gonna let
You’re never gonna let me down
And You’re never gonna let
 
Oh ’cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
‘Cause You are good
You are good, oh oh
 
Songwriters: John Mark McMillan / Sarah McMillan
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WE WANT TO SEE!

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 20 blindedThe closing event of Matthew 20 is the healing of Bartimaeus and his friend, both of whom were blind
(see Mark 10:46–52). Here Jesus put into practice what He had just taught the disciples. He became a servant to two rejected blind beggars.
 
The crowds around Jesus tried to silence the two men. After all, what claim did they have on the great Teacher? But Jesus had compassion on them and healed them. He was the servant even of beggars.
 
This chapter contains some hard things for us to receive and practice. If we love the things of this world, we cannot love God supremely. If we are not yielded completely to His will, we cannot obey Him unreservedly. If we seek glory for ourselves, or if we compare ourselves with other believers, then we cannot glorify Him. We cannot acknowledge Jesus as our King unless we love Him supremely, obey Him unreservedly, and glorify Him completely. But if we do these things, we will share in His life and joy, and one day live with Him!
 
Matthew 20, NLT
 
Jesus Heals Two Blind Men
Matthew 20 what do you want29 As Jesus and the disciples left the town of Jericho, a large crowd followed behind. 30 Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
 
31 “Be quiet!” the crowd yelled at them.
 
But they only shouted louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”
 
32 When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, “What do you want me to do for you?”
 
33 “Lord,” they said, “we want to see!” 34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him.
 
THOUGHTS FOR REFLECTION
 
Matthew 20 healing blindTo call on Jesus is to acknowledge who Jesus is. The blind men called out, “Lord, Son of David…” This got Jesus’ attention.
 
How do we get Jesus attention? Do we first believe and acknowledge that HE is Lord, Messiah come to save and redeem us? Do we know that He knows our need before we ask but we need to ask to show we know He will answer when we call out to Him?
 
Are we like Jesus who stops in the middle of the mission to help someone else who is crying out for help? Isn’t this the mission?
 
Oh Lord,
Stop us in the middle of the journey with You to acknowledge those who need you, are crying for you and need a little help to find you. Help us always to point the way to You. Keep us always alert to opportunities to serve while ignoring the urge for praise. May our serving be as much a part of our lives as breathing…what we do without thinking about it. We want to see You!
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
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BUT AMONG YOU IT WILL BE DIFFERENT…

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 20 leader.pngWe are such easily distracted humans, especially when we are pulled away from God’s purpose for us to selfish ambitions and natural desires to be great. It makes sense that Jesus would pause and remind them again about what He will face in Jerusalem, predicting his death by telling them a few details of what will happen to Him. But are the disciples who are walking along beside our Savior really listening? Nope. There is a side conversation happening.
 
James and John, brothers who brought mommy along to ask what they are too timid to ask, are more focused on the kingdom THEY would like to see Jesus rule. Oppressed by Roman rule, they see Jesus being a revolutionary who will overthrow this government and set up a new kingdom. James and John, at mom’s request and push, want first dibs at sitting in places of honor next to their new king, Jesus, in a kingdom of their own thinking, not of God’s.
 
Jesus knows their hearts, even the heart of their mom before she even requested top honors for her son. I think Jesus made her say it out loud, so she could hear for herself what she is asking of Him. Then he explains what “leading” in God’s Kingdom really looks like and the responsibilities and acts of service it will entail. This comes on the heels of Jesus predicting his death to dull minds focused on self.
 
Do we do that? Do we lose focus on God’s purposes? Do we expect to be served?
 
Do we miss what God is telling us through His Holy Spirit? Are we seeking honor in His Kingdom work or serving from a grateful heart for all Jesus did for us?
 
matthew-20-different.jpgMatthew 20, NLT
Jesus Again Predicts His Death
 
17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. 18 “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man[b] will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. 19 Then they will hand him over to the Romans[c] to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
 
Jesus Teaches about Serving Others
 
20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked.
 
She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.”
 
22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?”
 
“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”
 
23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”
 
24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
Matthew 20 servantLET’S GO OVER THIS AGAIN…
Jesus said to them and to us…”Among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
 
Are we ready to give rather than take? Are we ready to serve rather than be served? Are we ready, like Paul preached to the Philippians, to really “know Christ…AND share in His sufferings”, in God’s Kingdom work?
 
These are all questions for serious reflection this morning. Don’t be so hard on the disciples. We know the whole story and still lose focus from time to time due to selfish desires that lead to less than desirable servant living. God forgive us. Keep us alert and focused on YOUR purposes so that we hear your, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when we meet you face to face.
 
This is my prayer, In Jesus Name, Amen
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LINE UP!

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 20 line upNothing I would do as a teacher would get a bigger gut groan from students than when I would turn their line around for lunch or recess! My purpose was to stop the running to be first in line. They would push and shove, knocking people from the head of the line. Some would run, knocking over chairs for the coveted title of “being first” to go anywhere. The first time the students tried this method of lining up, they experienced “the first shall be last and the last shall be first”. Yes, I would say this out loud as I went the back of the battered line of last people who didn’t make it to the front and lead them around the room and out the door.
 
Those first kids, now at the end of the line, groaned and signed, “That’s not fair!” Mm, is that right? I don’t think so. Those who calmly walked to the line were rewarded for doing what was right. That’s all. This moment brought to you by “teachable moments by Susan”.
 
Ah, but I cannot take the glory or credit for this moment. Jesus taught his disciples (and all of us) who were always fighting over who was the greatest with wondering what reward awaited them for their work with this parable.
 
Matthew 20, NLT
Parable of the Vineyard Workers
 
Matthew 20 greatness20 “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.
 
3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.
 
6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’
 
7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’
 
“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’
 
Matthew 20 not fair.png8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage. 10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, 12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’
 
13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. 15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’
 
16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”
 
WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
 
Matthew 20 last.jpgWhen we did deeper, it is most about those who receive salvation late in life. We should rejoice but our human minds wonder if they will receive the same reward of heaven. OF COURSE, they will. No matter when our friends and family accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, we rejoice! We should not think or say, “well, it’s about time” and then wonder about the reward. “When we ALL get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be…” Remember that old hymn?
 
We are all sinners in need of God’s saving grace. Praise God for not giving all of us what we really deserve. Praise God for His generous, reckless, relentless, unconditional, unchanging love, mercy and grace! Thank God for all He has done through Jesus Christ who brought us back into a relationship with Him! Thank God for His Holy Spirit that keeps us on the right road with focus on our Lord and His teaching. Thank God for His generous provisions, protection and blessings daily on top of all that! AND there’s an eternal home waiting for us, too when Jesus comes for His own!
 
There’s no need for groaning when Jesus turns the line around. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. Where are you in the line? Does it matter?
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in our lives. Help us to stop judging each other’s salvation timing and works. Help us to rejoice like all the angels of heaven when one lost soul find you and follows you…no matter when.
In Jesus Name, Amen
 
Now, I’m singing…When we All Get to Heaven…
 
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus
Sing his mercy and his grace
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place
 
Matthew 20 first and last.jpgWhen we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
 
While we walk the pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky
But when travlin’ days are over
Not a shadow, not a sigh
 
When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
 
Onward to the prize before us
Soon his beauty we’ll behold
Soon the pearly gates will open
We shall tread the streets of gold
 
When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
 
Songwriters: Don Wyrtzen / Emily D. Wilson / E.E. Hewitt
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“DO I JUST HAVE TO BE GOOD TO GET TO HEAVEN?”

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Matthew 19 learn
I was busy collecting all i needed to teach Sunday School that cold, snowy morning in January in Oklahoma where Randy was pastor of the church where we grew up. I looked up as Ashley came strolling in with her mom behind her. “We’re early, because I didn’t know how bad the roads would be,” said Mom. “Not to worry, I’m glad you and Ashley are here safe and sound!”
 
While I finished preparing all the supplies for the class, Ashley was randomly talking about her week. Then she asked a question that caused me to stop what I was doing. “Miss Susan, do you just have to be good to get to heaven?” The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and told me it is time to tell Ashley God’s Truth about salvation.
 
Let me pause and relate the background about this 6 year old. At five years old, it was discovered that Ashley had a cancerous tumor growing just below her knee on her right leg. It was so fast growing that the knee had to be amputated and for the next year, chemo administered to aggressively fight the cancer. A year later, this little one wants to know the Truth about heaven.
 
I told Ashley, “No, no one is good enough. Only Jesus is perfect and good. We have all done bad things called sin. Jesus, the Perfect One died for all of our sins and then rose from death and is heaven. If we accept and believe that Jesus did this for us, then we can ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins. Jesus then forgives us and invites us to be part of His family. When we say yes to Him, He prepares a place for us in heaven.” In the meantime, He is with us every hour of every day helping to live in right ways if we listen to Him.”
 
“I want that”, Ashley whispered. I still remember the look on her little face. We prayed together and Ashley became one of God’s own. Later, in worship, she told the congregation of her decision. There was not a dry eye in the house.
 
Want to be rich? Be rich in Jesus! Accept what Jesus has done for us. Believe on Him. Do everything from a heart of gratitude for receiving what we do not deserve, full redemption from our sins. Love God. Love Others. All in Jesus Name. Only then will we inherit the Kingdom of God.
 
Matthew 19, NLT
The Rich Man
Matthew 19 money16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
 
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
 
18 “Which ones?” the man asked.
 
And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
 
20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
 
21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
 
22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
 
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. 24 I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”
 
25 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked.
 
26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
 
27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”
 
28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new and the Son of Man sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.
 
 
Matthew 19 camelIt is not a matter of what you will get, but with Whom you can have a relationship with forever!
 
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for opportunities to help others find and follow you. Those are precious, holy moments when you intercede and give your words to us to say. Thank you for leading us, guiding us and sometimes causing us to pause to listen to your Holy Spirit when it means the world to someone else. We are so rich in You! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you with all my heart, mind and soul!
In Jesus Name, Amen.
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JESUS STOPS

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
Psalm 119 97.pngRandy and I are in the last few weeks of working at Santa Cruz Children’s Learning Center with all kinds of children, younger and older, all precious humans created by God for His glory, honor and praise. I stop in the busyness of teaching at times to realize what a privilege it is to be invited to God’s work of growing and maturing His created to be and do all that they were designed to be.
 
We pause and look into the eyes of each one and wonder what God is doing and will do in their lives and how they will follow Him. Even when we have to correct and confront behavior that will lead them to “crash”, we love, pray, forgive and ask blessings on their lives. We ask God for His wisdom for each day, His insight and His understanding so we can help in the best ways.
The disciples didn’t want to stop in the busyness of the work, but Jesus quickly taught them that is imperative to stop, smile, hug and bless those God has created, for this IS the work of growing and maturing in the faith. He reminds them that the foundation of faith in God is compared to the trusting, unconditional love and faith of a child to older, more mature caregivers.
 
Children look up to us, as parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and coaches for love and help, trusting in us to deliver. Jesus tells us we should not “look down on these little ones”. We should BEND down to our children, look them in the eyes, and deliver what they need most…love and acceptance, as was given to us from Our Father in heaven.
 
Matthew 19 Jesus.jpgThis passage opens with “parents brought their children to Jesus…” Oh, how I pray for parents to bring their children to Jesus today! I immediately think of what God commanded, not suggested, of parents who were ready to enter the promised land of God…TEACH your children about Me and what I have done for you “and all will go well with you”.
 
“So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.
 
22 “Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him. (Deuteronomy 11, NLT)
 
Matthew 19 Jesus bends down
I love the pictures that artists have given to us of Jesus sitting down as He blesses the children as He goes about His mission. I imagine our Savior settling down on the grass or on a rock so the children could crawl into His lap and hug Him tightly for that is what children instinctively do when you sit down on their level.
 
Matthew 19 Jesus smiling
Oh, what a Savior! Oh, what a lesson for us to meditate on all day long. Want to be like Jesus? Bend down and be a blessing. Stop your “mission” and love on your children and the children God has put in front of you.
 
Matthew 19, NLT
Jesus Blesses the Children
 
13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
 
14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
 
matthew-19-do-not-hinder.jpg
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for inviting us to Your work while teaching us how to be a help to the growth of those who are young in the faith. Continue to show us your priorities as we go about your work. I pray for parents all over the world to bring their children to You for your blessing.
In Jesus Name, Amen
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NOT WHAT GOD INTENDED…

Matthew – God’s Purposes
 
matthew-18-as-it-was-meant.jpgMarriage is a bond between two people, male and female. If the male and female seek God first, then their marriage is blessed by God. Will there be disagreements and trials in this relationship? Absolutely, for male and female are distinctly designed in different ways with specific gifts and abilities. The blessing in this bond between two people who love God is strengthened BECAUSE of their differences working together to achieve more than what only one person could achieve in following God’s best for them.
 
I talked with a young, unmarried teacher just last night, who commented on how Randy and I work together in the classrooms here in Bolivia. “You and Randy work as a team, that is so cool!” I chuckled a bit and said, “Well, it took us a few years, almost 48 to be exact, to achieve our team spirit.” What she doesn’t see or realize that behind the scene are two very different personalities who realize the gifts and abilities that each of us has been given by God.
 
We know who does what the best and are willing to plan lessons accordingly. We sometimes strongly disagree because of our “night and day” differences when dreaming about our goals. But because of the love of God in us, our love for each other never fails in the discussions. Those disagreements actually lead to each of us seeing life from a different perspective and forming a better plan because of this revelation!
 
Matthew 19 oneJesus reclaims what God intended for male and female coming together in marriage. In Moses time, trying to keep God’s people focused on Him, many strayed. That’s probably why they spent so much time in the wilderness wandering around. They were always under God’s care but chose to complain, argue, and lament over their present circumstances. It is no wonder their marriages didn’t last because of this selfishness. Moses used the “paper” of divorce to protect the women sent away by men from the bond, a “concession to hard hearts” of sinful men, freeing her to marry someone else who would care for her. It is not what God intended but they were doing many things not of God at the time.
 
We have many divorced friends who we love dearly. Most will say, we were not under God’s will when we married and did not live for Him while married. We didn’t know how to be married. We didn’t know how to handle life while going through financial hard times. We didn’t know how to disagree without fighting for our “rights” as individuals. There is the problem today in this key word…individuals. They never came together “united as one” under God’s will and purpose for them as a couple in the marriage bond. Without God, we fight as individuals, selfishly driven to get our own way.
 
Jesus points out this is not what God intended…
 
Jesus also knew then what is said and acceptable in today’s world…“Not everyone can accept this statement,” only those who God helps.
 
Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, Jesus provided a way back to God. Come to Him. Stay with Him. God will help and bless all marriages where two individuals come together as “one” in Him. Use your God given differences, with God’s help, to create a bond of ONE that cannot be broken.
 
Matthew 18, NLT
Discussion about Divorce and Marriage
Matthew 19 love covenant19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.
 
3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”
 
4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”
 
7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.
 
Matthew 19 marriage.jpg8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”
 
10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”
 
11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
 
Matthew 19 love
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for creating us the way you did. Thank you, dear Jesus, for showing us with your life, how to lay down our selfishness and think of others more than ourselves. Help us not to fight for our “rights” but to focus on being more righteous in your eyes. Help us to be one in You.
In Jesus Name, Amen

 

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